Banyana Banyana at work at Ikamva in Cape Town. Photo: Safa

CAPE TOWN – Banyana Banyana landed in Cape Town on Sunday and the headed off straight to the training ground to prepare for their matches against Sweden this week.

The training took place at Ikamva, the home of Ajax Cape Town.

Banyana will play Sweden on Thursday in a closed-doors clash and on Sunday will play an international friendly at the Cape Town Stadium.

The 2017 Cosafa champions had a full complement of 26 players at their first training session – with only the Limpopo trio of Noko Matlou, Lebo Ramalepe and Rachel Sebati watching from the sidelines as they arrived late.

Interim coach Desiree Ellis said: “I have said before, this is a defining year for Banyana Banyana and SA women’s football in general. 

“We need to hit the ground running if we are to realise our objectives. And you have to take note that, even though we have given players training programmes to follow, we have just returned from the festive season and we haven’t had much activity as the leagues are closed,” said Ellis

“But I have made clear to the players that we will not accommodate passengers because this is the year of hard work, sacrifice, dedication and commitment. 

“We have two major competitions to qualify for – the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nation as well as the 2019 FIFA World Cup. 

“I have to admit though, what I saw at training makes me happy as it shows that most have been following their training programmes and we just need to build on that. 

“I am also glad that all the players are present on day one, as this makes our job so much easier.”

Sweden are expected to land in the Mother City on Monday. They will have their first training session in the evening in Somerset West.

They are ranked 10th in the world and fifth in Europe. This is the third time the two nations meet. 

African News Agency (ANA)